In my 6-month post ablation update I mainly talked about the rampant PVCs and PACs I was experiencing. I also mentioned that I was going to be wearing a holter monitor for 7 days.
Well I wore the monitor for 7 days and just as I expected, Dr. Natale didn’t find anything unusual or concerning going on. I was having PVCs and PACs but nothing abnormal. On my worst days during the seven days I was “only” having about 1,000 PVCs. I know that sounds like a lot of PVCs but apparently doctors don’t get worried about it until you start approaching 20,000 PVCs per day or you get a number of PVCs in a row.
Since I returned the monitor almost a month ago now, I have continued to suffer from PVCs and PACs. Sure I have good days but I’ve been having more bad days than good – and the bad days are awful. On those days, the constant PVCs and PACs are as bad as an afib episode. They suck!
PVCs, PACs – and Now Possibly Bradycardia?
Up until about 2013 my resting heart rate was around 42 beats per minute. I was a daily jogger for years so that’s why my heart rate was so low. Fortunately, I had zero issues with such a slow heart rate. My dad used to always give me shit about my heart rate. He’d say comments like, “With your heart rate you should be dead. I have no idea how you’re alive.” We always have a good laugh about it.
Then in 2013 I stopped exercising so vigorously and over time my heart rate increased to about 52 beats per minute. That was my new normal heart rate – right up until the day of my ablation.
Immediately following my ablation, and for almost five months after my ablation, my new resting heart rate was in the mid to upper 80s. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any different and life was still good.
Around the fifth or sixth month after my ablation, my resting heart rate dropped to the mid 60s to the mid 70s. Here seven months after my ablation that is my current resting heart rate. I suspect it will continue to go down until it gets to my pre-ablation resting heart rate of 52 beats per minute.
While this gradual decline of my resting heart rate looks good on paper, there has been something going on that I’m a little concerned about.
I’ll be sitting down (or lying down) and I’ll take a random check of my pulse with my Apple watch and I’ll be in the mid 30s or mid 40s. It freaks me out when that happens because I always wonder if my heart is going to drop further or stop all together!
Now it’s possible that my Apple watch isn’t getting a solid reading for whatever reason (maybe because of the constant PVCs and PACs), but it will show a pulse in the mid 30s or mid 40s for a solid minute or two. Then suddenly it will switch to my usual mid 60s or mid 70s.
If this isn’t a glitch in my Apple watch, then I’m concerned that my heart rate is randomly dropping quite dramatically. I’ve obviously suffered from bradycardia for years and it’s never been an issue but even during my hardcore exercise days I never dropped under 40 beats per minute (that I knew of at least).
And this time around when I catch my heart rate so low I always have a slight headache or feel “off.” These are classic symptoms of bradycardia. So while bradycardia is nothing new to me, having symptoms from it is. I’m also not used to seeing my heart rate in the mid 30s!
I’m hoping these random readings are false and my Apple watch is just giving me the occasional incorrect reading but if its correct and I am suffering from bouts of bradycardia, then I may potentially be facing some other interesting developments in the future. Can we say pacemaker???
Next Steps: Dr. Natale Visit, Hormone Panel, & More Supplements
I am flying down to Austin, TX to visit with Dr. Natale on October 12th as a standard follow up visit from my ablation. He likes to see his patients in person for a follow up visit within a year of having an ablation so I figured now would be a good time. As you can imagine, I’ll have lots of questions for him!
I’m also having an echocardiogram (echo) when I’m down there as you normally have one done around the 6 month mark after an ablation. I’m hoping everything checks out. If they find anything abnormal – even if it’s something minor – I’m going to be super stressed out.
I’ll be posting an update after the echo and my appointment with Dr. Natale so be on the lookout for that.
I’ve also been looking into adrenal fatigue/adrenal inefficiency as I suspect that may be part of the cause of my rampant PVCs and PACs. To that end I had a phone appointment with a local naturopathic doctor the other day and he agreed that it would definitely be something worth looking into.
As a result, I’m going to have a hormone panel done to see if there is anything abnormal going on with my hormones, particularly cortisol (the notorious stress hormone). This panel consists of taking a few saliva samples throughout a given day and then sending in the test kit to be analyzed.
My naturopathic doctor also recommended I start taking hawthorne berry for the PVCs and PACs and ignatia for stress, grief, and general anxiety. I’ll be trying these in the coming days.
All this naturopathic stuff is a bit foreign to me and at times feels a little like witchcraft but I’m desperate and willing to explore anything at this point to feel normal again. If my hormones are out of whack and something can be done to restore them what can it hurt? And if homeopathic remedies such as hawthorne berry and ignatia can help, then I’d be a fool not to at least try them.
I also continue to experiment with what seems like every supplement under the sun. I’m sure my wife thinks I’m going crazy as it seems like every week a new supplement is delivered by the UPS guy. The latest supplements I’ve been trying out are a magnesium oil spray called EASE, hawthorne solid extract, and a couple different forms of magnesium (magnesium L- theonate and a time-release magnesium by Jigsaw).
I also continue to experiment with the amount of magnesium I’m taking (sometimes no magnesium and sometimes as much as 1,000mg a day) and the amount of potassium I’m taking (drinking anywhere from 1-3 glasses of low-sodium V-8 throughout the day).
I haven’t been able to find anything that works but to be fair my experiments have been all over the board. The constant changes in my supplements may be contributing to the very PVCs and PACs I’m trying to cure! Who knows. At times I think about just throwing all my supplements away to see what happens. Maybe that will be my next experiment…stay tuned.